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Our 2019 Season Is On Sale Now!

Ready, set… go! Buy early and enjoy great perks and savings!

We're excited to welcome you back to the Stratford Festival for another year of incredible live theatre! And there's no time like the present to plan your annual visit and get your tickets in advance.

Book now and take advantage of our early-bird savings! Order now and you'll get your tickets at pre-season prices. But don't delay - prices rise by up to 25% as of February 1.

Booking in January opens the door to amazing perks, including access to the best seats on some of our hottest deals:

  • 2-for-1 offers on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings all season long! (Excludes opening nights.)
  • Spring Savings - see an early performance and save with greatly reduced spring rates on dates up to June 23! 
  • Amazing Forum bundle deals - save up to 50% on most Forum events (available only until January 31).

Order your tickets today!

Booking your tickets well in advance means that you have a greater selection of the very best seats on the performance dates that you want the most! Many performances of our hottest productions can sell out months in advance - so by ordering now, you can avoid disappointment.

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An interview with The Merry Wives of Windsor Director Antoni Cimolino

Fun and laughter are guaranteed when Falstaff is pranked by the wily women he wishes to woo!

William Shakespeare set his rollicking comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor in his own contemporary Elizabethan England, in a rural town not unlike his birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon. Our 2019 production of the play will strike a similarly familiar note with modern audiences by creating a 1950s-era small-town vibe that echoes that of our very own Stratford, Ontario.

Shakespeare's beloved comedy is the only one of his works to be set in his own time - yet it reflects a slightly earlier Elizabethan era than the exact moment in which it was written. In one scene, a boy called Will is being taught Latin. The boy's name can hardly be a coincidence: it's as if Shakespeare (who, according to his friend and rival Ben Jonson had "little Latin and less Greek") is reaching back into his own history to the small-town life of his childhood.

The action of the play is driven by different classes seeking to advance their situations with quarrels over marriages and finances, and, more famously, by the comic revenge plot levelled at would-be seducer Sir John Falstaff by the dual objects of his desires, Mistresses Ford and Page. Merry Wives has a tiered class structure, a small-town setting without easy access to the wider world, and very real risks to the women in standing up for themselves in male-dominated times.

"In past Festival productions, this play was often staged either in the 19th century, or else well back through the centuries to an Elizabethan setting," says the production's director, Antoni Cimolino. "I wanted to bring the story further ahead, and find a setting as close to our own experience as possible while still mirroring the same spirit of looking back Shakespeare used when he wrote it.

"I chose the 1950s so that we would be viewing a small town through the lens of a time not all that long ago - with the era of television, widespread plane travel and feminism still yet to come over the horizon.

"Class structure had a lot of resonance in the society of the 1950s, with clear contrasts between the upper, middle and lower classes," says Mr. Cimolino. "Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page really do risk all with incredible confidence and exuberance to get the better of the upper-class Falstaff. They are at the vanguard of this somewhat crazy, diverse and ultimately recognizable small town. There is a bit of tension being played out between the classes, but eventually we see a social harmony achieved. Theirs is a healing world in which everyone comes together in the end. In this way, the community itself is very much the hero of the piece."

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It would be easy to make one class or another the butt of all the jokes, but every social stratum in The Merry Wives of Windsor gets its turn. Each has its shortcomings - the gossiping middle and lower classes, the financial machinations of the upper class, the ambitions of the middle class to marry their children off in order to gain status.

Those types of people are all there in a small town," says Mr. Cimolino. "Even the Hostess of the Garter, who is only too ready to soak her customers in any way she can. Shakespeare paints a warts-and-all view of each and every one of them. But it is an affectionate and forgiving view, and that is one of the reasons it is so incredibly appealing to all of us watching today."

A feeling of forward motion and a direct connection with our own times is achieved with the inclusion of the town's children in the production.

"There are children constantly present - a whole new generation witnessing the community's story as it unfolds," says Mr. Cimolino. "We're teaching the young performers all sorts of skipping games and group activities, and really rediscovering communal in-person play. Imagine: that young contingent of the 1950s society we see portrayed up on stage will be reflected back in our real-life audience. So many of our patrons will remember the Festival's era of the tent. It brings the play forward and gives it a unique resonance."

That sense of the community as hero is perfectly captured in a precious real-life letter dated September, 1952. In it, the Festival's first artistic director, Tyrone Guthrie, is writing to its very first leading man, Alec Guinness, to express his admiration for the spirit and enthusiasm shown by the townspeople of Stratford:

"I met them [the Committee] as you probably know, several times at Stratford. Had expected to find a typical hick town committee of dull tradespersons led by the nose of one or two madly enthusiastic cranks. Not at all. They were extremely intelligent, realistic and - most surprising of all - humble. They realize that they don't know all about it; and are prepared to be guided, provided they feel confident that the guiding is responsible."

The Merry Wives of Windsor plays at the Festival Theatre from May 11 to October 26. 

Production support for The Merry Wives of Windsor is generously provided by Jane Petersen Burfield & family, by Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine, and by Dr. M. Lee Myers.

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More Fabulous Forum: Buy Now and Save!

Be sure to book your Forum events by January 31 for big savings.

As you plan your personal Stratford Festival 2019 playbill, don't forget the Forum. We have hundreds of unique events, including guest speakers, interactive talks with Festival artists, readings, music, performances, workshops, special meals and kids' events.

Book early and save with the Forum Deal*

Order by January 31 to expand your experience - and your savings!

  • Buy 6 tickets - save 30%
  • Buy 10 tickets - save 40%
  • Buy 15 tickets - save 50%

Log in using promotion code FORUMDEAL to grab this deal. Once logged in, simply add all Forum events of your choice to the shopping cart in one order and the discount will be automatically applied at checkout. Please note that the Forum Deal excludes all "Special Meals" and "Free Forum" events.

Here are just a few Forum highlights we're sure you'll love: 

Table Talk
July 12 - August 30
This popular series begins with an engaging dialogue between an artist and academic on one of the season's productions followed by a delicious buffet meal in the Festival Theatre's beautiful Paul D. Fleck Marquee. Cash bar. Please reserve at least 48 hours in advance.

Friday, July 12 - Private Lives with Allan Pero and Mike Shara
Friday, July 19 - Nathan the Wise with David John and Ron Kennell
Friday, July 26 - Henry VIII with Misha Teramura and Alexandra Lainfiesta
Friday, August 2 - Birds of a Kind - academic speaker TBA with Sarah Orenstein
Friday, August 9 - Mother's Daughter with Morgan Ring and Shannon Taylor
Friday, August 16 - The Merry Wives of Windsor with Jane Freeman and Sarah Dodd
Friday, August 23 - The Front Page with Karen Fricker and Maev Beaty
Friday, August 30 - The Crucible with Ann Wilson with Rod Beattie

Brotherhood: The Hip Hopera
October 22 - 23
Sébastien Heins performs his award-winning one-man show about two brothers torn apart by allegiance to ambitions, family history and masculinity. Using hip hop and R&B, rap, soul, funk and gospel, Sébastien brings you into an epic story of family and brotherly love. Contains mature language and subject matter.

Performance dates:
Tuesday, October 22, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, October 23, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, October 23, 10 p.m.

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Spotlight Tom Patterson Theatre
May 31 - August 16
A Special Series Focused on Cultural Spaces
As we watch the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre rise up before our eyes, these talks examine urban planning and the arts with special guests and experts. Free.

Cultural Spaces and Communities - Friday, May 31
Cultural planner and speaker Gord Hume talks with Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson about the role of art in creating vibrant cities and the opportunity the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre presents to Stratford.

Designing Cultural Spaces - Thursday, July 18
Siamak Hariri, design architect of the new TPT, and Rick Haldenby, professor of architecture studies at the University of Waterloo, discuss how to create inspiring and functional arts spaces.

The Changing Face of Arts Engagement - Friday, August 16
Diane Ragsdale, assistant professor at the New School in New York and teacher at the Cultural Leadership Program at the Banff Centre, discusses the creative economy, the changing cultural context and the implications for artistic and cultural organizations. 

For a full list of Forum events, visit What's On

Support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and The T.R. Meighen Family Foundation.

The Spotlight Tom Patterson Theatre Series is presented by investStratford.

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Our Playbill in a Nutshell: Part Two

In this three-part series, we take a peek at our 2019 productions and explore what each one is all about.

Welcome to part two of our special SceneNotes series in which we offer a quick peek at each of our 2019 plays and musicals to give you a better idea of what each production has in store, who the key players are, and why you should rush to book your tickets now. With such an amazing and varied line-up of theatrical offerings - together with stellar direction, spectacular choreography and guaranteed powerhouse performances - we're sure you won't want to miss a single one!

Henry VIII
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Martha Henry
Studio Theatre: May 7 to October 12

A rare chance to see this seldom-performed 1613 Shakespeare historical play of royal passion, political intrigue and personal faith. The action of the play takes place during the middle years of the reign of the infamous Henry VIII, and culminates with the birth in 1533 of Henry's daughter, Elizabeth - who went on to rule over England's Golden Age.

When King Henry's head is turned by one of Queen Katherine's ladies-in-waiting, Anne Bullen (one of the many variant spellings in Shakespeare's time of the name we now write as "Boleyn"), there unfolds a series of events that changed the course of England's history. Cardinal Wolsey - the King's advisor - plays a dangerous and self-serving political game while encouraging Henry to divorce his loyal queen. Katherine fights back with support from the Pope, but eventually Henry gets his way and secretly marries Anne, who gives birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I. Discovering that Wolsey has been working against him, Henry destroys his once-valued advisor and replaces him as Archbishop of Canterbury with Wolsey's mortal enemy, Thomas Cranmer.

Festival favourite Jonathan Goad rules in the title role, with Irene Poole taking on the long-suffering Queen Katherine. Back for her second season, Alexandra Lainfiesta plays Anne Bullen, and Rod Beattie dons the robes of Cardinal Wolsey. Director Martha Henry will transform the Studio Theatre into a royal court filled with betrayals, power games and exciting political machinations. 

The Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
Festival Theatre: May 11 to October 26

A guaranteed treat for Shakespeare fans and lovers of high-energy comedy, this hilarious play is often hailed as one of Shakespeare's funniest comedies. Thought to have been written in 1597-1598, it's the only one of his plays in which Shakespeare overtly depicted his own time and place: Elizabethan England.

One of Shakespeare's most beloved characters, the fat knight, Sir John Falstaff, has seduction on his mind, with both Mrs. Page and her friend Mrs. Ford being the objects of his lust. When these "merry wives" receive identical love letters from Falstaff, they compare notes and plan revenge. Meanwhile, their husbands have been made privy to Falstaff's plans, and the jealous Frank Ford begins setting a trap of his own. The mistresses of mischief have their fun with Falstaff and Ford, eventually letting their husbands in on the game. During their ultimate prank - in which much of the community participates - young Anne Page turns her back on her parents' choices for her future husband and steals away with her true love, Fenton. When the two return to announce that they are married, all are reconciled to the inevitable, and Mrs. Page invites everyone to her home to "laugh this sport o'er by a country fire."

The Festival's own "Lord of Misrule," Geraint Wyn Davies, returns as Sir John Falstaff to battle wits against the effervescent duo of Sophia Walker as Mrs. Ford and Brigit Wilson as Mrs. Page. The fabulous cast also stars Graham Abbey as Mr. Ford, Michael Blake as Mr. Page, Lucy Peacock as Miss Quickly and Sarah Dodd as the Hostess of The Garter. Director Antoni Cimolino sets this tale in a small town of the 1950s - not unlike our Stratford - where the community itself is a hero in the story.

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Schulich Children's Plays
The Neverending Story

Based upon the novel by Michael Ende
Adapted by David S. Craig
Directed by Jillian Keiley
Avon Theatre: May 16 to November 3

German award-winning author of fantasy and children's fiction Michael Ende (1929-1995) published Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story) in 1979. It has since been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. It was adapted for the screen in 1984. David S. Craig adapted the novel for the stage. The Roseneath Theatre production premièred at Young People's Theatre in Toronto in 2012.

As both he and his father grieve the loss of his mother, ten-year-old Bastian is tormented by school bullies and hides in a closet to escape. In his refuge, he finds solace in reading and becomes immersed in a strangely compelling book, The Neverending Story: the tale of a hero's quest to save the realm of Fantastica from the encroaching terror of the Nothing. In a bid to save their dying ruler, the Childlike Empress, Atreyu, a young warrior, has been chosen to find a cure for the Empress and destroy the Nothing. He embarks upon a quest, accompanied by his loyal horse, Artax, and meets many fantastical creatures along the way. Ultimately, Atreyu discovers that the Empress can be saved only by a person who exists outside of Fantastica - and as Bastian steps into the role of saviour in the story, he discovers his own power in this magical world.

Offered as 2019's Schulich Children's Play, The Neverending Story stars Jake Runeckles as Bastian and Qasim Khan as Atreyu, and also features familiar Festival favourites Tim Campbell as Bastian's father, Sean Arbuckle as Gmork, Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Uyulala, Mamie Zwettler as the Childlike Empress and Roy Lewis as the Bookseller. Director Jillian Keiley fills the Avon Theatre stage with spectacle and wondrous other-worldly creatures. 

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Mother's Daughter
World première commissioned by the Stratford Festival
By Kate Hennig
Directed by Alan Dilworth
Studio Theatre: May 18 to October 13

The wait is over at last for the third play in Kate Hennig's wildly popular "Queenmaker Trilogy"! The first two of the series, The Last Wife and The Virgin Trial, were huge Festival hits, and both were shortlisted for the 2017 Carol Bolt Award and for the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama.

Upon the death of Edward VI, the princess Mary - daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon - becomes haunted by a vivid mental image of her late mother, urging her to reinstate her parents' legitimate marriage, re-establish Catholicism in the kingdom and kill both her cousin, Lady Jane Grey, and Mary's half-sister, Bess. After seizing the throne, Mary is pressured by her circle of advisors about marriage, Catholic restoration and the executions of her enemies. In a royal court filled with insurrections, questionable loyalties and a deadly clash of religions holding an entire nation by its throat, she finds herself inexorably driven to the course that will earn her the enduring nickname of Bloody Mary.

Shannon Taylor is at the centre of the courtly action as Mary, with Irene Poole as Catalina, Beryl Bain as Bassett, Jessica B. Hill in the dual roles of Bess and Anne, Andrea Rankin as Jane, Maria Vacratsis as Susan, and Gordon Patrick White as Simon. Director Alan Dilworth takes the helm of this fascinating portrayal of women in power, political intrigue, and the nature of leadership.

Production support for Henry VIII is generously provided by Jack Whiteside.

Production support for The Merry Wives of Windsor is generously provided by Jane Petersen Burfield & family, by Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine, and by Dr. M. Lee Myers.

Production support for Mother's Daughter is generously provided by Charles Beall & Karon Bales, by Dr. Robert & Roberta Sokol, by Sylvia Soyka, and by Catherine & David Wilkes.

Support for the creation of Mother's Daughter was generously provided by The Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program and by Charles Beall & Karon Bales.